Town board to discuss reopening rec facilities

  • The rec center pool reopening could mean a return to practice for the Highlands Hurricanes swim team.
    The rec center pool reopening could mean a return to practice for the Highlands Hurricanes swim team.

For the past three weeks, families have been able to enjoy the Macon County Rec Park swimming pool in Franklin.

The public pool in Sylva officially reopened for business on Saturday.

Highlands’ pool might not be far behind following a recommendation by the rec committee to reopen the facility, at limited capacity, as of Saturday, June 27.

“As part of the governor’s phase two of coronavirus restrictions pools are allowed to reopen to the public,” Highlands Parks and Recreation Director Lester Norris said during Friday’s rec committee meeting. “We wanted to wait a little longer and see how things have gone, and so far Macon County has reported no issues so we feel like we are ready to reopen as well.”

Norris informed the committee that the pool reopened for morning adult lap swim by appointment on June 5 and the six lanes have remained full each day during the time allotted.

When the pool reopens for public activities, there will be a limit of 30 people in the water at one time and 113 total inside the building. The retractable roof will be left open as often as the weather allows and the restrooms will be open, but the showers will remain off limits.

Committee member Mark Hehn asked if the town had been instructed to increase the chlorine level to combat COVID-19 coronavirus upon reopening. Norris answered that the current chlorine levels are what the state health department is recommending.

Hehn also asked if people outside the pool should be required to wear a facemask and socially distance.

“We are going to encourage people to wear a mask, but much like other facilities we aren’t going to require it,” town manager Josh Ward said. “Social distancing will also be encouraged unless its members of the same family.”

Norris added that the deck chairs and common implements inside the pool facility will be disinfected, and the restrooms cleaned, multiple times per day.

A recommendation to reopen the pool will be presented to the Highlands Board of Commissioners tonight.

Tennis courts open

Norris informed the rec committee that the two recently resurfaced tennis courts are now open for play.

Line painting was done Friday and the courts officially opened on Saturday.

“That project took longer than we expected initially, but we have had such a wet spring the company had to keep delaying due to rain,” Norris said. “The courts have been repainted, relined, and they look great.”

Softball season on tap

Norris told the rec committee that after talking to parks and rec directors in several nearby towns, that he plans to hold the adult softball season this summer.

“We normally start in June, so we will be about a month later than usual if we start after the Fourth of July holiday,” Norris said. “Softball is outdoors, it’s fairly well socially distanced with the exception of the dugout, and we can play the games as safely as possible with a few added precautions.”

If and when softball season starts, dugouts will be extended with players standing outside the fence along both foul lines. There will be no pre-game coaches/captains meeting and no post-game handshake. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed on each side of the field.